[ pit-fawl ]
/ ˈpɪtˌfɔl /


a lightly covered and unnoticeable pit prepared as a trap for people or animals.
any trap or danger for the unwary: the pitfall of excessive pride.

Nearby words

  1. pitchstone,
  2. pitchy,
  3. piteous,
  4. piteously,
  5. pitesti,
  6. pith,
  7. pith helmet,
  8. pith ray,
  9. pithead,
  10. pithecanthrope

Origin of pitfall

1275–1325; Middle English pittefalle, equivalent to pitte pit1 + falle (Old English fealle) trap

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pitfall

British Dictionary definitions for pitfall


/ (ˈpɪtˌfɔːl) /


an unsuspected difficulty or danger
a trap in the form of a concealed pit, designed to catch men or wild animals

Word Origin for pitfall

Old English pytt pit 1 + fealle trap

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pitfall



c.1300, "concealed hole," a type of animal trap, from pit (n.1) + fall (n.). Extended sense of "any hidden danger" is first recorded early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper